Doctor Who: Blue Forgotten Planet by Nicholas Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
With Blue Forgotten Planet, Big Finish managed to pull of a perfect conclusion to Charley Pollard's travels with the Doctor. This is no mean feat. Charley's exit had to be big - her story has nearly come to an end so many times before, that an ordinary ending just wouldn't do.
When I was at the Clarion West writing workshop in 2002, one of our instructors, John Crowley, used to talk about storytelling as "management of revelation". I thought about that phrase a lot while listening to Blue Forgotten Planet, because there are lots of moments of revelation in this story. The Blue Forgotten Planet project isn't what it initially appears to be, the intentions of the Viyrans aren't what they initially appear to be, the madness affecting the human race isn't what it initially appears to be, and, of course, Charley hasn't really been what she appears to be since the ending of Patient Zero. All of these twists and turns are deftly handled. I've recently come to think that Nick Briggs is a bit underrated as a script writer for Big Finish. This story ought to do a lot to correct that.
Plus, it's a very emotionally affecting script. I was expecting Charley's departure to be heart-wrenching, but there are other moments of poignancy in the script that I wasn't expecting. Particularly the way it's made clear that the Doctor and Mila-as-Charley have travelled together for a long time, and developed a very close relationship - a relationship based on a lie.
India Fisher manages an impressive dual performance as Charley and Mila-Charley, playing two characters who are biologically/vocally identical, and yet distinct in personality. The fact that I was rarely confused about whether Charley or Mila-Charley was speaking is a real testament to her skill, as is her playing of a fairly dramatic final conversation between the two versions of Charley.
I've really come to like the Viyrans as well. They're aliens who aren't evil so much as just possessed of very different values. I like the way Michael Maloney plays them as well. He makes them sound detached, but not flat.
I have a few minor plot niggles. The solution to the virus problem was a bit timey-wimey, and in a script that didn't have as much else going on probably would have seemed weak. In the context of this overall story, it didn't really matter.
Really excellent work from everyone involved.
View all my reviews >>